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Wednesday Hoddle of Coffee: Soccer News and Notes, May 10, 2017

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Are Juve set to break into Europe’s big three?

Juventus v AS Monaco - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Though I don’t often see him mentioned as amongst the elite club presidents in European football, I think Thore is right:

To that list we might add signing Arturo Vidal for €10.5m and selling him for nearly four times that four seasons later when he was obviously in decline. The hiring of Max Allegri, though criticized at the time, has also been a stroke of genius as Allegri has taken Antonio Conte’s Juventus and built on them, making them more potent going forward and more tactically versatile as well. Even Agnelli’s more dangerous purchases, like the astronomical fee paid for Gonzalo Higuain last summer, have looked in hindsight like risks well worth taking.

Here’s the really fun question though: It’s something of a truism in football to say that Bayern, Real, and Barcelona are the three best teams in Europe and everyone else is chasing after them. Certainly in the case of the elite English teams, Atletico, Dortmund, and PSG the gap between the big three and the rest is apparent enough. But Juventus may be another matter. They are now competing in their second Champions League final in three seasons—that is one more appearance than either Barça has managed in the same span and two more than Bayern. Moreover, they have a Bayern-like stranglehold on Serie A as they have now all-but-secured their sixth straight Scudetto.

So, what say you, Carty Free commentariat: Is the big three actually a big four? Or have Juve actually leapfrogged past Bayern or Barça or both?

Links

Don’t miss this piece on the Polish and Argentine roots of Paulo Dybala.

How Two Goalkeepers Shattered the Racism Surrounding Black Keepers

Rory Smith on Atletico’s farewell to the Vicente Calderon.